I quit social media in the month of February.

The thing about being in HR is that I have “industrial psychologists” for friends, and they don’t let me get away with anything.

Apparently, I haven’t quit social media.

I might be detoxing from social media by only checking my feeds in the morning and night. (During the shortest month of the year.) But it turns out that quitting means something. It means that you stop or discontinue your behaviors. And, because I think that I can’t step away from the internet, I’m not really quitting social media. I’m just turning the dial down.

That’s not a bad thing. It’s just not quitting.

Reminds me of when I quit Starbucks, which was a legitimate effort to quit an addiction. I went a few months without having a triple grande mocha, and now I only have Starbucks when I travel. Or when I’m driving past a Starbucks with a drive-thru. On my way to my pilates class. When I’m tired and need caffeine.

Now that I think about it, I had Starbucks 3x last week. Dammit.

My HR psychology friends have told me that quitting is no joke. To quit something, you need to abstain for more than a few weeks. It takes about a year, and only then do you realize that it’s over and have some “emotional distance” to process your decision.

And maybe not even then.

I asked, “How do I quit social media for a year?”

Or alcohol? Or fast food? Or Starbucks?

And the answer is, “One day at a time.”

Christ, that’s the hardest answer to hear because it’s both cliche and true. Most of us can’t see into the future and predict what will happen with our lives in a week, let alone a year, so it’s important to set realistic goals and focus on getting through today.

And, there’s more tough news: If you partake of the forbidden fruit — your Twitter addiction, alcohol, cocaine, the ex — the year-long clock starts over again.

So the key to success, my friends, is never to get addicted to anything — Facebook, food, champagne, Girl Scout cookies, etc. Once you’re addicted, it’s a pain-in-the-ass to break the cycle.

But, if you want to make a change in your life and break the addiction like I do, seek out the help and support of a professional. And commit to changing your life one day at a time.

I’m not feeling too defeated about my social media efforts, though. While I can’t give up Twitter for a year — and I miss seeing your kids on Instagram — it does feel good to step away from online toxicity and fill my day with other data. And, to manage my social media consumption, I’m using an app called Freedom. Works on both my phone and my laptop.

I recommend the app — and the detox — and I hope you find it helpful.

7 Responses to I Quit Social Media in February
  1. Micole Kaye

    I’ve “quit” biting my nails so many times now. I wish I could slap the 3 year old me for starting. Now that I think about it, that was my mom. I hated her for it. Bad habits/addictions are hard. Hope you’re doing well!

    • ruettimann

      Biting your nails is a tough one — good luck!

  2. Martin Snyder

    Isn’t social media the lifeblood of your reign as an HR Microcelebrity / Budding software entrepreneur? Is the notion of quitting social media a proxy for something else?

    Some people can enjoy a satisfying addiction for their entire lives. Actually, a satisfied addiction is one of life’s finer pleasures.

    A cocktail @ 5PM, or the right bagel every morning, or certain rituals with a spouse or co-workers, or rare but relished rushes of climbing mountains or landing in a new country or finding that pristine first edition…. I know a guy who is IMO, clinically addicted to his fireplace.

    It’s really only a big problem when it’s a progressive addiction- the kind of boozer who can’t drink enough, or when the high becomes elusive or the intensity has to ramp up as part of the cycle. Those people have it bad….

    I don’t know if 12 months or 365 days or 8736 hours is a magic interval…ISTM if you can drop the object and the people around would not otherwise know about it, you are probably in a safe zone. If you can’t drop it for a meaningful interval without everyone around you seeing a big change in your persona, you probably have a real problem.

    The human mind is just mysterious beyond measure…

  3. Maureen Anderson

    I decided to give up junk food for a year and see what happened. I wasn’t ready to give it up for life — who is? — but I knew I could make it a year.

    After two months I decided I was never going back to eating it. (It’s been more than seven years!) Had I set out to give it up for life (which I’d done many times), I’m sure I’d still be hooked.

    I gave myself long enough to realize how I felt without artificial sweeteners and God-knows-what-else running through my system. Unbelievable! That’s the reward now, how I feel moment by moment.

  4. Rachael

    Go to Cuba Laurie – no WiFi – I was completely disconnected for 3 weeks – I loved it! 🙂

  5. Mark Fogel

    Okay, credit for trying…I am talking about the coffee.. I can relate….talk soon…Happy V day!!!